Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Posts Tagged ‘sports’

Is a Man Abnormal if He Likes Art and Dislikes Sports?

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Sex Questions and AnswersI’ve got a husband who likes art and dislikes sports (and he seems to be well-adjusted), so I was a bit intrigued to read this excerpt in a new addition to my collection, the book Sex Questions and Answers: A Guide to Happy Marriage by Fred Brown and Rudolf T. Kempton. I’m not sure what this has to do with sex, though the authors may have felt it was an important issue ~ it’s in the chapter titled “Problems of Sexual Adjustment.”


Every normal man has a bit of woman in him and every woman contains some of the male in her personality. There is, generally speaking, no such thing as an “ideal” combination of masculinity and femininity in one person. In some primitive societies the females are breadwinners while the males do the housework and gossip. In other societies both men and women play dominant roles. Among ourselves it has, until very recently, been the accepted pattern for males to be dominant or “masculine” while females were expected to be “feminine” or passive. The ideal combination of traits, evidently, is whatever is regarded as most desirable in the particular society in which the person lives. Our standard requires that a man be aggressive and “ambitious” in his lifework, that he exhibit an acceptable interest in “male” recreations such as sports, that he look forward to marriage and the rearing of family, and that he seek enjoyment from the companionship of other men. The feminine part of him should enable him to show warmth and affection toward others, an interest in the arts, kindness and consideration. There are many men who would have a feeling for fine paintings, flowers, and the gentler aspects of life if this sensitivity had not been squelched early in life by an insecure father who insisted that these represented “sissy” interests. An excessive interest in sports to the exclusion of other interests may reveal limitations in the personality range and, in excess, a prolonged adolescent identification of manliness with the possession of physical prowess. Everyone tries to select from the environment those aspects of it which suit his intellectual and emotional needs. Some of those selections will be based upon inner weaknesses which require identification with a powerful football team and the need to win, while others will seek more passive and less muscular pursuits. Neither one nor the other is “abnormal” but merely reflects the different ways in which individual differences cause people to take from the environment whatever they need. The best balance of masculine and feminine traits is achieved when the individual is able to mingle with members of his own and the opposite sex without experiencing tension and strain.


Now that I think about it, I suppose tension and strain during sex might be a problem.

Games and Sports

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

you had awfully bad luckI’ve never been much of a sports person. It could have something to do with my life as a band geek, or perhaps a desire to avoid confrontation and pain. In any case, I was invited to a Super Bowl party this weekend and decided to brush up on the subject in order to get in the mood. The following tips on sportsmanship come from Vogue’s Book of Etiquette. It should come in handy for those in Tampa. Play politely, gentlemen ~ I’ll be watching (sort of)!

1948: Games and Sports

Sportsmanship applies to all competitive games, from tennis to checkers. And these are its rules: One must play one’s best always; one must be a generous opponent, slow to take advantage of technicalities in one’s favor, quick to give others the benefit of the doubt; one must accept defeat gracefully and victory with deprecating modesty. The man who boasts about winning or bewails his bad luck, or stops trying when he is far behind, is a bad sport.

The ideal attitude of any player is expressed in the old saying, ‘Play for the sake of the game; not only to win.’ When the game is over, the ideal attitude of winner and loser is expressed in this short conversation not necessarily to be repeated verbatim after each game, but conveying the ideal attitude perfectly:

Loser: That was a good game.
Winner: You had awfully bad luck.
Loser: No question of luck at all; you played well.

All rules of sportsmanship are based on the following premises:

1. If one breaks a rule, one must accept an opponent’s correction immediately and willingly, with some phrases such as, ‘Oh, of course; I’m so sorry.’ Infringements that may not have been noticed by one’s opponents should be rectified and apologized for at once.

2. Upbraiding a partner for an error in judgment or for poor playing is the height of bad sportsmanship. As the offending partner one should say, ‘That was horrible. I let you down badly,’ to which the answer can only be, ‘Not at all. I should have done the same,’ or ‘Not at all. You had a tough break.’

3. Delaying the game, for deep thought, to study conditions, or whatever, is boring to all concerned and should be avoided. The only possible exceptions to this rule are games such as croquet, where delay is part of the battle strategy. But it is a technique best used among friends. Righteous impatience is even more rude and unsporting. Tapping, whistling, moving about, whether to indicate impatience or not, are impossible in any game.

4. In any game, the most attractive player is the one who is the quickest to accept the rules and playing customs of others.

Source: Fenwick, Millicent. Vogue’s Book of Etiquette. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1948.
~ pp. 80-81 ~

Take Him Out to a Ball Game

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

everyone tries to help the batter

Q Dear Miss Abigail:

I broke up with my boyfriend last week, and I regret it. I want to ask him out again, but I want it to be really special and romantic. What is a really romantic thing I could do? Keep in mind I am fifteen.


A Dear Confused:

Hmm… let me think. Something special. Well, from what I hear, most boys don’t have any interest in silly romantic stuff. But hey ~ I bet he’d find a little trip to a baseball game awfully wonderful! Since we all know that girls know nothing about sports (ha) here’s some advice from a book called Boys and Other Beasts, written by Barbara Lang. It should help us gals understand this mysterious game, and at the same time it may just help get your boyfriend back.

1965: Sports Illustrated

The day will come when you want to please some young man who passionately loves one of several dozen evocatively named teams ~ Red Sox, White Sox ~ they all make you think of Sweat Sox. To prepare you for those incomparable afternoons of sitting on hard benches eating cold hot dogs and warm ice cream, here are some pointers on the first game of the land ~ baseball.

1. Men use baseball as a means of proving that women are inferior and cannot understand a man’s world. They therefore speak about the game in code and try to make it sound as complicated as possible. Actually, it’s quite simple.

2. Baseball is a game played by a team of nice grown men who take turns swinging a club and trying to hit a ball out of an enclosed field. The club is called a bat, the team is called a club, and the field is called a park. Once you know that, the game is self-evident.

3. The key to baseball is that it’s a friendly game which the men play for relaxation when they’re not working in television commercials. In order to start things off, one man tosses the ball to another man at bat. A third man squats (so the spectators can see what’s going on) behind him to catch it and throw it back to the pitcher. Everyone tries to help the batter. When he doesn’t notice the ball go by, a fatherly type clad in dignified navy calls his attention to it by screaming ‘BALL.’ Sometimes this gentleman encourages a shy batter by urging ‘STRIKE, STRIKE.’

4. Sooner or later, the batter takes his advice and strikes the ball. Then the men stationed around the field fetch it while the batter runs around getting congratulated. It gives you a warm feeling all over.

5. Baseball is not only friendly, it’s a restful game, suitable for men of all ages. Frequently the men out in the field don’t do anything all afternoon except chew gum.

6. To be sure, there are a few other nuances to baseball, but you needn’t bother with them as long as you remember a few key things not to do at a ball game:

A. Do not take your knitting.
B. Do not ask where the bulls in the bull pen are.
C. Do not suggest the outfielders carry paperback novels.
D. Do not ask why the men in the stands are getting so excited.
E. Do not go home by mistake at the seventh inning stretch.

Source: Lang, Barbara. Boys and Other Beasts. New York: Pocket Books, 1965.
~ pp. 88-89 ~